Congress is in the process of creating a new force that will be capable of fighting in outer space. Attached to the US Air Force, the Space Corps would function as a separate branch of the service.
But the Air Force is dead set against the new outfit. Congress, on the other hand, is insisting we need a Space Corps to keep up with the Russians and Chinese.
The authors of the idea say a separate and dedicated force devoted to space is needed to keep the US ahead of adversaries like Russia and China in the still-emerging domain of space war, arguing the Air Force is primarily devoted to fighting in the air, rather than space.
“The department cannot fix itself on this issue — Congress has to step in,” said Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, who has spearheaded the concept.
Rogers’ argument is that the US military is losing ground to Russia and China in space by having its space programs within the Air Force, when the Air Force’s primary focus is on fighter jets like the F-35. “The Chinese literally have a space force today. Yet the Air Force would continue to force space to compete with F-35s. And we know who’s going to win that competition,” Rogers said.
But the Air Force argues that the House is taking the wrong approach with its new push for a space corps, because it would create a new bureaucracy within the Air Force, adding more red tape to the process.
“If you’re saying the words separate and space in the same sentence, I would offer, you’re moving in the wrong direction,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told reporters last month.
“The Pentagon is complicated enough. This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart and cost more money,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. “If I had more money, I would put it into lethality, not bureaucracy.”
The Air Force’s comments rankled Rogers, who slammed the service’s leaders the for trying to shut down the proposal.
“It was their approach to this that’s gotten us into this situation, and their insistence on maintaining the status quo is just mind-numbing,” Rogers told CNN.
The possible creation of a Space Corps — which has elicited images of a new generation of warriors trained to fight in the final frontier — could be similar to the establishment of the US Air Force itself. The US military’s air power was initially part of the Army as the Army Air Corps, until the Air Force was established as an independent military branch in 1947.
If all space business done by the US military was placed under the control of the Space Corps, that would make sense. But why not make them an entirely separate branch of the service? Why have them the red headed step child of the Air Force?
The military spends about $9 billion on unclassified space programs. It’s unknown what comes out of the intelligence “black budget” for military space uses, but some experts believe it is at least that much. This is not an inconsiderable sum and when you factor in the increasing importance of space to the success of military operations in the field, a force completely dedicated to our military needs in space would be an asset.
But the Air Force is not only resisting the creation of a Space Corps, they are reluctant to give up the Space Command. In short, they don’t want to advance the importance of space or diminish it within the service.
I don’t think they can have it both ways, which is why Rep. Rogers proposal will probably pass.